Drowning prevention - 9 ways to protect your kids
City of Fort Worth comes together for drowning prevention
Protect your kids.
That was the overall message from Fort Worth, Texas Mayor Betsy Price and representatives from the city of Fort Worth, including Cook Children's, at a press conference to address city-wide support of drowning prevention measures.
Mayor Price said that the message of the day was that tragedy in the water only takes seconds and that drowning is a silent killer. "Children drown without a sound," she said.
The press conference called for awareness and a city-wide call-to-action to protect our children through education, prevention and response. Along with the Mayor and Cook Children's, representatives from the Fort Worth Drowning Prevention Coalition, the Fort Worth YMCA, the Fort Worth Firefighter Charities, the Fort Worth Fire Department and MedStar were all in attendance.
The event included a poignant speech from Denise Doherty, an RN and director of Emergency Services at Cook Children's. Doherty said her staff is "drained and heart broken" from the number of children and patients affected by this "very preventable tragedy."
In the past two months, Cook Children's has seen nearly a child a day for drownings. The month of July began with two drowning deaths and Cook Children's Trauma Department seeing 19 total drownings from July 1 to July 22, compared to 11 drownings and two fatalities last year for the entire month of July. June saw more than double the amount of non-fatal drownings from a year ago with 26.
Parents have been urged to watch their kids. Now the message has a new sense of urgency - you must protect your children.
"We've seen more than enough children die this year," Doherty said. "It has to stop. Can you imagine being a parent, sitting in the ED waiting room, praying that the life of someone you love so dearly is spared, especially since it was something that didn't have to happen? No parent wants to be saddled with that guilt. I think it's also appropriate for me to say that no one is immune, and yes, it can happen to you. Cook Children's has witnessed this in a very intimate way, even our own medical community has experienced this heartbreak."
Doherty added," Today, we're making a plea. It's not only time to watch your kids near the water, but it's time to protect them."
So what does it mean to truly protect your kids? Help us spread the word with these tips:
1. Get in the water. Be in arms reach of your child. Don't let your child out of your sight and be there to grab your children out of the water at any sign of trouble.
2. 100 percent adult supervision at all times. Be active in the pool with the children or watch like a lifeguard. Don't take your eyes off of your child. If you aren't in the water, be sure to watch your kids at all times. Don't spend time on your smartphone, talking to friends or walking away for even a moment. Do have a phone nearby in case of an emergency. But that's the only time anyone should be using one.
3. Watch them until they are safe and inside. Monitoring your kids includes accounting for everyone who had been in the water all the way to the house or apartment. Once you are inside, count again and make sure all the kids are safe and inside.
4. Be a water watcher. If you are at a party with a group of children, take 15-minute shifts watching the kids. Count heads above water and look for any that are motionless on the bottom of the pool. Give your undivided while you are the water watcher. Stay sober and be alert. You can't have a more important responsibility.
5. Life jackets. Not just any flotation device will do. Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved. Check the tag to say so.
6. Swim lessons. Mom and dad, you need to know how to swim. If you don't know, take lessons with your child. Make sure your child knows how to swim too. If they are in the pool, they need to know how to get to safety. But this is only a layer of protection and doesn't take away from the fact that you need to be in arm's reach.
7. Know CPR. Local CPR lessons are given in your area. A quick Google search should help you find a class.
8. Use pool and child alarms to alert you if your child gets in the water without you.
9. Isolate your pool from the rest of your backyard with a permanent, four-sided fence with self-latching gates to prevent kids from accessing the pool area without an adult.
Previous articles on this topic:
For more information
Learn more about drowning prevention and water safety here. This page gives helpful information on keeping your kids safe during swim season, including proper fit for life jackets, pool safety videos and fences/alarms information.